History, Inventory of Parish Records, Surnames of Cloz. Part 5 of ‘Trentino Valleys, Parishes and People Guide for Genealogists’ by Lynn Serafinn.
In the first article of this special series on the valleys, parishes and parish registers for the province of Trento, we looked how the province of Trento (aka Trentino) and the diocese of Trento were organised, and how those levels of organisation differ. In articles 2-4, we looked specifically at the decanato (deanery) of the city of Trento, i.e. its history, frazioni, parishes, surnames, and local occupations.
Today, we move on to the first of a series of articles I will be writing on VAL DI NON, in the northern part of the province. As a reminder, here is a map I shared with you back in the first article in this series, showing the various valleys of Trentino. I have highlighted Val di Non (number 18) in YELLOW. You can see its relative position to the city of Trento, which is ‘0’ on the map.
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This map was taken from the book Toponomastica Trentina: I Nomi delle Località Abitate by Giulia Mastrelli Anzilotti (2003). If you wish to review my earlier article about Trentino valleys, you can find it here:
TODAY’S SPOTLIGHT: CLOZ
Val di Non covers a very large area and contains many parishes. It would be impossible to discuss all these parishes all in a single article in any detail. Thus, I have decided to spotlight these parishes in separate articles.
Today’s spotlight is the village/parish of Cloz. I chose to start with Cloz only because I just finished working on project for one of my clients, where most of the families came from Cloz, and this parish is fresh in my mind.
In today’s article, I will cover:
- The geographical location of Cloz within the province, and in relation to other parishes/comuni.
- A brief history of the village/parish, including a look at the Carta di Regola of 1550.
- My own commentary on the state of the parish records for Cloz, including start years, how they are organised, where you will find gaps, etc.
- An exploration of the most common surnames of the parish, i.e. their linguistic and historic origins in the parish, including some that no longer exist.
Armed with this information, my hope is you will have a practical toolkit to help you along with your genealogical research, when looking for ancestors in the parish of Cloz.
My primary resource are the parish registers for Cloz. These have been digitised by the archdiocese of Trento, and were also microfilmed by the Church of Latter Day Saints. I will discuss these in detail later in the article.
Secondary sources, of which there are many, including research by other historians, are listed under ‘REFERENCES’ at the end of this article.
ALL of these sources are written in either Latin or Italian, so anything you read here will be my own translations of the original texts.
After you finish reading this article, you might also wish to watch this video podcast I made on 4 Sept 2020, where I expand on some of the topics covered in this article, and discuss additional research tips and insights:
WHERE CLOZ IS LOCATED IN VAL DI NON
At an elevation of 791 metres above sea level, Cloz is located near the Novella River, a few miles northeast of Lago di Santa Giustina, at the base of a kind of ‘land fjord’ (my word) in Val di Non, where a sliver of the province of Bolzano/South Tyrol juts into Trentino.
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According to historian Enzo Leonardi on page 370 of his book Anaunia: Storia della Valle di Non, Cloz covers a territory of 833 hectares, which is only about 3.2 square miles. At the time he wrote that book in 1985, he says the village then had 731 inhabitants; he adds that Cloz had 1,002 in 1915, and 883 in 1837. Thus, the population rose towards the end of the 19th century, but then dropped by 30% after World War 1, surely due to emigration (including to the US). The latest population statistics for Cloz from December 2019 show there are only 654 people living there.
Because of downward population trends (especially in rural areas), civil municipalities in Trentino are frequently changing, so as to make them more practical.
Leonardi says the municipalities of Cloz and Castelfondo were aggregated into the pre-existing comune of Brez in 1928, but it was later reconstituted into an autonomous municipality in 1946. Just this year, however (on 1 January 2020), Cloz, Brez, Cagnò, Revò and Romallo were all merged to form the new municipality of Novella, one of the twenty-nine mergers of municipalities in Trentino-Alto Adige.
TIP: Focus on Parishes, not Municipalities
Because civil jurisdictions are so ‘fluid’ in Trentino (and indeed throughout all of Italy), a Trentino genealogist needs to focus on PARISHES rather than comuni, as they change far less frequently, and often remain the same (or more or less the same) for many centuries.
TIP: Pay Attention to Adjacent Parishes
If you are tracing ancestors from Cloz, you might discover many marriages where the spouses came from adjacent parishes, especially Revò (including Romallo), Dambel, Arsio e Brez, Rumo, and Cavareno, as these parishes ‘embrace’ Cloz on all sides.
Conversely, if you are tracing ancestors from one of these other parishes, and you cannot find a marriage record for them, you might wish to check the Cloz records, especially if you know the spouse has a typical Cloz surname, which we will explore later.
Also, it was not uncommon for spouses of Cloz residents to come from places like Lauregno and Proves, which are today part of the province of Bolzano/South Tyrol, as these places used to be part of the greater parish of Revò in the distant past.
HISTORIC OVERVIEW AND ORIGIN OF THE NAME ‘CLOZ’
Cloz has been inhabited for many thousands of years, as evidenced by a multitude of archaeological artefacts, some dating back to the Neolithic period and Bronze age. Findings include roman urns, knives, coins, various bronze and silver artifacts, gold rings, necklaces and earrings, and many tombs, some dating back to the Roman era of years.
The name of the village is at least 1200 years old. According to Leonardi, Mastrelli and Giangrisostomo Tovazzi (Parochiale Tridentinum published in 1785), the name ‘Cloz’ can be found in various forms in records dating back to Middle Ages, with the earliest version de Clauze appearing in a legal document from the year 845. The spellings ‘Cloz’ and ‘Clauz’ appear in legal documents in the 1180s. Tovazzi says other spellings include Clotz, Clozzo, and Chioz.
Apparently, the spelling of the name was even problematic for German speakers, an investiture of tithes from Prince Bishop Giorgio Hack, 15 May 1447, spells it ‘Glawcz’!
In Latin texts, the most common form of the name is ‘Clautium’, but it can also be found written as Clodium, Clotienses, and Clotium. Linguistically, Mastrelli believes the name is derived from ‘Claudius’ (the Latin form of the male personal name ‘Claudio’), saying also that ‘Brez’ is derived from Braetius, ‘Spor’ from Spurius, and ‘Mori’ from Marius.
Leonardi tells us there were once two castles in Cloz. Castel Fava, the ruins of which still stand, dates back to the 1100s and was so-called for the family of the same name. Leonardi says there was once a castle named Castel Cloz, but that we know nothing about it.
The village is divided into two districts: Santa Maria and San Stefano, the names of their respective churches; in terms of record-keeping, however, Cloz is a single parish, not two.
The church of San Stefano is mentioned in documents as far back as 1183, but the original structure was completely rebuilt around 1440. It was later restored and renovated in 1575, and then expanded in 1772 and again in 1873.
The church of Santa Maria (possibly Maria Maddalena) is mentioned in records dating back to 1485. It was restored in 1616 and again in 1889.
According to Dr Albino Casetti in his Guida Storico – Archivistica del Trento, the parish archives contains several legal documents that can add to our understanding of the local history. For example, there is a series of documents in the years 1412-1415 in which the village of Cloz is engaged in disputes over boundaries issues and resource usage (including a the ‘malghe’, i.e. the dairies) with the villages of Rumo, Cagnò, Revò Romallo, Tregiovo and Lauregno. They seem to have resolved their disputes in 1415.
1550 CARTA DI REGOLA FOR CLOZ
In the past, many (if not most) Trentino communities would create a ‘Carta di Regola’ (‘charter of rules’) for their parish or village, which defined many rules regarding tithing, resource use, calendar of events, etc.
The earliest surviving Carta di Regola for the village of Cloz was drafted on 8 February 1550. Its transcription appears in the 3-volume set by Fabio Giacomoni called Carte di Regola e Statuti delle Comunità Rurali Trentine (1991). What is of special interest to genealogists when studying the Carte de Regola (‘Carte’ = plural form) is that many of the heads of households of the community will be present at the drafting of the document, and their names will have been recorded. Thus, the opening lines of most Carte di Regola can often give us a snapshot of the local population during that era, telling us what surnames were present in the village at the time. They can also sometimes help us identify ancestors whose name may not appear in the parish registers, because the Carta will often mention the names of the fathers of those who were present.
In the case of Cloz, here is a summary of the names of the men who were present on 8 February 1550 (rarely will you see the names of women, unless they were heiresses or land-owning widows):
Where the document was drafted:
- It took place in the house of Francesco Cat
- In the presence of Antonio, son of the late Francesco Cat of Cloz
Witnesses from the district of Santa Maria:
- Bartolomeo, son of the late Angelo Bugnata
- Romedio, son of the late Nicolo’ Zembrin (Gembrini)
- Bartolomeo, son of the late Giacomo Cat
- Dorigho, son of the late Pietro Rauzi.
Witnesses from the district of Santo Stefano:
- Melchiore Calovino
- […] son of the late Simone Franco (Franch)
- Simone, son of the late Pietro Zanon
- Stefano Carolet
From this information, we can see the following surnames as representing ‘citizens’ of Cloz in 1500: Bugnata, Calovino, Carolet (although I believe this is actually Casolet), Cat, Franch, Zembrin (more commonly spelled Gembrin or Gembrini), Rauzi and Zanon. This is useful information, as it predates the beginning of the surviving parish registers.
TIP: Carta di Regola
If you want to know more about Carte di Regola, with some interesting historical examples of how they were used, you might wish to check out my podcast from 7 April 2020 when I spoke about this topic. You can find it on the PODCASTS page on this website, or on YouTube at https://youtu.be/BVEADrtNeI4
RESEARCH: THE PARISH REGISTERS FOR CLOZ
The table below displays the surviving parish registers for Cloz, as per the original books, as well as how they are divided in the LDS microfilms:
|LDS MICROFILM NO.
|Baptisms vol 1-6
|Baptisms: 1565; 1599-1923
|Marriages vol 1-6
|Deaths vol 1-4
|All'Estero vol 1
|All'estero (outside of province) births, marriages and deaths: 1845-1923
Sadly, there are many gaps in the Cloz parish records, as well as several cases where the records not organised chronologically. These factors have made the research particularly challenging. Recent research has also led me to conclude that some records are DEFINITELY missing.
Below is an overview of what I discovered about the state of the records for the parish of Cloz, while working on a recent project.
- Although Casetti says the parish of Cloz has 7 volumes of baptisms starting in 1565, on LDS microfilm (and digital format in Trento) there are actually 6 registers, plus an additional BDM from ‘all’estero’ (abroad).
- In volume 1, there are only 2 baptismal records for 1565, one for 1566 (surnames Catt and Zanon), and then they leap forward 33 years to 1599, which is the year they effectively begin.
- In 1628, the baptismal records suddenly switch from straight chronological to sections organised by FIRST NAME. This means you pretty much have to look through all of the records if you want to find anyone, as you have no way of knowing whether they used a middle name as their primary name later in life.
- After 1674, the baptismal records resume chronological order.
- The baptismal records toward the end of volume 2 (late 1700s into early 1800s) are a MESS. There are many DUPLICATE records, sometimes with conflicting information, and the records are not always in chronological order.
- Early 19th century baptisms are VERY scanty on information, often only giving the parents’ names and nothing else.
- Volume 3 of baptisms has a note saying the record of births between 1811-1815 are in the ‘new book’ because that was when it was under the government of Italy, and then it went back to Austria. On the cover of volume 3, it says you will find the baptisms from 1811-1816 in the marriage protocol. This does NOT refer to the marriage records, but to the “Protocollo dei consensi prestato al matrimonio dal padre di sposi minorenni” (a book containing all the consent protocols given by fathers of spouses who were of minority age). This book has NOT yet been photographed; hence the following baptisms are currently NOT available in digital or microfilm format: one record from 16 November 1805; one record from 18 December 1808, and all baptisms between 6 January 1811 and 26 December 1815. This might attribute for the discrepancy between Casetti’s figure of 7 volumes and the 6 volumes that were photographed.
- There are 6 volumes of marriage records starting in 1672.
- Marriages between 1811-1815 are not in volume 3 where they should be, but at the end of volume 2, after 1803. This is also indicated by a notice in volume 3, at the point where the 1811 marriages would normally be expected.
- There is a short gap in the marriages between July 1803-Dec 1804.
- Although there is no mention of additional missing records, I am certain several records are also missing circa 1800-1802.
- There are 4 volumes of deaths starting in 1662.
- There do not appear to be ANY death records for infants/children in most of the 1700s.
- There are very few records between 1780-1798, and I suspect many are missing.
- As with the baptismal records, some of the death records have not yet been photographed, and thus they are not yet available in digital or microfilm format. The gaps in the death records goes from 4 January 1805 (although I think it actually starts in 1804) and 23 January 1811, and again between 4 January 1816 and 9 November 1825.
ABOUT THE MISSING VOLUMES
I wrote to the archives in Trento about the missing volumes, and they told me that they HOPE to be able to get hold of those registers and photograph them, but they haven’t given me a timeframe for when that might happen. Until then, be aware that you will not find every Cloz record you might wish to find, especially during the Napoleonic era.
SIDE NOTE: Although I mention the LDS microfilms, the LDS Family History Centres have stopped making their microfilms available to the public, as they gradually transfer their libraries into digital format. After they are digitised, you will only be able to view them at a local Family History Centre, not online. However, all of these records were digitised by the Diocese of Trento more than a decade ago, and they are viewable at their archives in the city of Trento (again, not online). Over the years, I have managed to collect many thousands of Trentino parish records, which has enabled me to work from home on many (but not all) projects. This has proved especially fortunate – for me and my clients – during the recent COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Article continues below…
SURNAMES IN THE PARISH OF CLOZ
What I find so interesting (and wonderful) about Trentino surnames is that the names themselves contain stories about our ancestors. They can tell us things like the name of an ancient patriarch, a family occupation, a physical characteristic, or a place from which the family may have come.
Moreover, surnames are often associated with specific parishes, municipalities, or even hamlets (frazioni).
Below is an alphabetical list of surnames I’ve found in the records for Cloz, along with a bit about their meaning and history. While some of these surnames will appear in other parishes, a few of these are unique to Cloz, or are at least most commonly found there.
- You will notice I use the word ‘patronymic’ in connection to many surnames. This term refers to a surname that has been derived from the personal name of a male head of family (i.e. a ‘patriarch’).
- Please note that there ARE other surnames in the parish, but I haven’t included surnames that appear to have been ‘imported’ from other parishes (especially Brez and Revò) sometime after the beginning of Cloz records. The surnames I have NOT mentioned here include (but are not limited to) Clauser, Dalpiaz, Gentilini, Leonardi, Luchi, Ongher, Menghini, and Zuech.
- There are also surnames ‘Taialargo’ and ‘Vielmi’ in the early Cloz records, but these are both actually soprannomi for two different branches of the Franch family (more on this below).
Variants: Agnol; Agnoi; dell’Agnol; (also spelled Anzelini, but NOT in Cloz)
The surname Angeli is generally believed to be a patronymic (derived from the first name of a patriarch/male head of the family) name Angelo, which can also be found spelled ‘Agnol’ in older records.
The personal name Angelo means ‘angel’ in Italian, but its original Greek meaning is ‘messenger’ or ‘messenger or God’. Like many other patriarchal surnames, it appears in various parts of the province, and is not necessarily historically connected to the others. The spelling ‘Anzelini’, is never found in Cloz, for example; rather, it is seen primarily in Brez.
It is interesting to note that Angeli does not appear in the 1500 Carta di Regola for Cloz.
My research has led me to speculate that the Cloz surname may have arisen from a branch of the Bugnati family, possibly descended from a patriarch named Angelo (emphasis on the word ‘speculate’ here!). Indeed, I have found many Angeli boys baptised with the name Angelo in the 17th-century records in Cloz. There are several baptismal records from the first decade of the 1600s, the earliest being the baptism of Angelo on 20 October 1602, where the surname is ‘dell’Agnol detto or di Bugnati’ (side note: Notice the godfather is ‘Pietro Taialargo di Franch’, making it clear that Taialargo is a branch of the Franch):
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Normally, such wording would mean the surname was ‘dell’Agnol’ and the soprannome was Bugnati; but as Bugnati appears to predate Angeli as a surname in Cloz, it might indicate that they were a branch of the Bugnati, who were now calling themselves ‘dell’Agnol’. By the end of the 1600s, the surname nearly always appears as ‘Angeli’.
In his book Sacerdoti della Diocesi di Trento dalla sua Esistenza Fino all’Anno 2000, P. Remo Stenico lists dozens of priests with the surname Angeli, hailing from various parts of the province. The earliest of those from Cloz is Giacomo Angeli (spelled ‘del’Agnol’ in his baptismal record), who was born in Cloz on 15 March 1659, and died on 9 November 1724 at the age of 65.
As already mentioned, this surname was already present in Cloz at the time of the drafting of the 1550 Carta di Regola.
In his book Guida ai Cognomi del Trentino, linguistic historian Aldo Bertoluzza does not mention the surname Bugnata or Bugnati. He does, however, discuss the root ‘Bugna’ (which is also a surname, but not in Cloz), saying it might be derived from a dialect word meaning a pimple or a boil, or any kind of swelling caused by an injury. I suppose it’s like the English word ‘bunion’. He also says it there was an ancient personal name ‘Bugna’ (perhaps with the same meaning?) from which the surname might be derived.
This surname appears to have gone extinct sometime in the 1700s. The most recent baptismal record I found with this surname is a Maddalena Bugnata, who was born 29 April 1699, although I haven’t studied the registers in enough detail to say she was definitely the last of them.
Variants: Calovino; Callovini; Calovin
As mentioned, this surname was already present in Cloz at the time of the drafting of the 1550 Carta di Regola; I have found it in Cloz records at least through the end of the 1600s. The earliest surviving parish record I have found with this surname is the baptismal record of Maddalena, daughter of Giovanni Pietro ‘Calovino’ and his wife Cattarina, dated 31 March 1599.
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Despite its ancient connection with Cloz, Leonardi cites it as being a surname associated with Fondo (where dates back at least to the min-1500s), not Cloz. Indeed, none of the variant forms appear in Cloz in the 19th century records on the Nati in Trentino website, so it appears to have gone extinct there sometime before the early 1800s.
Bertoluzza offers little about the history or meaning of this surname, saying only that its origins are uncertain. It is tempting to speculate a connection with the village of Calavino, but as ‘Calo-‘ and ‘Cala-‘ are not pronounced the same in Italian, and Calavino is on the other side of the province in Valle di Cavedine, I would be hesitant to jump to that conclusion without some concrete evidence.
Variant: Canestrin; Chenistrino
Bertoluzza says this surname originated in Val di Non, and is derived from the word canestro or canestra, which means ‘basket’, and that it probably started as a soprannome referring to artisans who made cesti, cestelli, corbe e panieri (various kinds of baskets). It appears not only in Cloz (I have found it in Cloz records throughout most of the 1600s) but also in Revò. By the 19th century, it also appears in Rovereto.
Leonardi seems to indicate the surname was not native to Cloz came there via a Vincenzo Canestrini of Romallo around 1645, but I have found evidence their arrival in Cloz is further back, and their place of origin is from much farther away.
Admittedly, it’s a bit tricky to trace them because the surname doesn’t actually APPEAR in the earliest records in Cloz, and you have to cross-reference many records a bit to figure out who they are.
It all starts with a man referred to many times as ‘Maestro Vincenzo Murador/Murator’ (muratore), whose children start appearing in the baptismal records in the early 1600s. The first of these, dated 4 November 1602, was a Maria. In that record, her father Maestro Vincenzo is said to come from ‘Valcamonega’ (Valcamonica) but is living in Cloz.
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The alpine valley of Valcamonica is not in Trentino at all; rather, it straddles to provinces of Bergamo and Brescia in eastern Lombardia. The word ‘muratore’ means ‘mason’ and the fact he is referred to as ‘Maestro’ indicates these two men were master masons (a highly respected craft), and not merely a lowly bricklayers.
Note that there IS a Romallo line of Canestrini, founded by a different Vincenzo. At first I thought he might have been the same man as the Vincenzo in Cloz, but comparisons of death records and tax registers (1620, 1633) prove that they were two different men (but undoubtedly related, as they both are said to have come from Valcamonica), and that the one in Cloz was older than the Vincenzo in Romallo. As the elder Vincenzo of Cloz had a younger son named Vincenzo, the Vincenzo in Romallo may have been a nephew, or possibly even a much older son from a previous marriage.
As we progress through the records, we finally see the surname Canestrini in 1619, with the birth of a Maddalena, daughter of Domenico ‘Chinestrin’, murador (I believe he was an elder son of Vincenzo). From this point on, we see the surname Canestrini always connected to this same family of master builders. In the death record of Vincenzo’s son Giovanni on 7 October 1662, he is referred to as ‘Giovanni Canestrini, ‘faber cementarius’, which again means a master builder/mason. In the 1630s up to 1670, there are numerous baby boys called ‘Vincenzo Canestrini’ born to men who are apparently sons (or grandsons) of the original Vincenzo of Valcamonica.
So, if you are descended from the Canestrini of Cloz, know that you have Lombardian roots. When working with the records, if the surname seems to disappear, look for references to their occupation as builders, and you should be able to trace them.
Stenico lists many Cloz priests with this surname, the earliest being Guglielmo Canestrini (probably the Guglielmo who was born 25 January 1684), who appears in parish records between 1715-1742. Bertoluzza also mentions an Antonio Canestrini of Cloz (1743-1807), who was a prominent biologist.
The name is still extant in Cloz today, although it is actually more commonly found outside the province, especially in Emilia-Romagna.
Variants: Casoletti; Carolet
Giacomini says the surname ‘Carolet’ appears in the 1550 Carta di Regola, but I believe this was a mistake in transcription, as the surname is quite clearly ‘Casolet’ in the Cloz parish records, from the early 1600s. We also find it amongst the archives of the Thun family, in a legal document dated 14 December 1517 referring to two brothers named Bartolomeo and Stefano Casolet of Cloz.
Bertoluzza says that the words Casol, Casolin and Casolet were once the names of a type of cheese that was typical in Val di Sole, and that from these words we get various surnames.
Again, this surname appears to have gone extinct, although I haven’t researched it in enough detail to say when it disappeared or if it morphed into something else.
Variants: Cat; Catti
As seen, the surname Catt appears as far back as the 1550 Carta di Regola. It is also the surname of the child (Cattarina) in the earliest of the surviving baptismal records for Cloz, dated 20 December 1565.
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Now extinct, the surname Catt appears in Cloz records at least through the 1630s, but I haven’t researched it in enough depth to say whether it was replaced by another name or simply died out. I can find no information about the origin or meaning of the surname in any of my resources.
Bertoluzza says Cescolini is cognate with the surname Ceschi, and that they were both derived from the name ‘Cesco’, which is an affectionate nickname for Francesco. Thus, it is a patronymic surname, indicating an ancient patriarch named Francesco.
The earliest baptismal record in Cloz I have found with this surname is dated 13 March 1648 (Giovanni, son of Francesco), but I haven’t yet done an exhaustive search to determine whether there are earlier records with this surname.
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Cescolini is still in existence in Cloz today, with a few branches having settled in other nearby parishes in Val di Non.
Bertoluzza says this is one of dozens of surnames derived from the personal name Rigo, which comes from Old German Od-Rik, and evolved into the Italian personal names Odorico, Odorigo, and Udalrico. He doesn’t address its origins or use in Cloz, but I have seen in pretty much back to the beginning of the surviving Cloz baptismal records, with the earliest appearing 1603.
The variant ‘Dorighini’ is also appears in Molveno, but the more common spelling in Cloz is Dorighin (without the final vowel). The surname appears in Cloz baptismal records through the 1880s.
SIDE NOTE: In the Carta di Regola from 1550, there is mention of a Dorigo Rauzi. This personal name is so unusual it did make me wonder if he was the patriarch of the family later known as Dorighin, but that is merely my personal musing and I have no evidence for this.
Bertoluzza says this is one of several surnames derived from the personal names like Floriano (male) or Flora/Fiore (female), indicating a patriarch or matriarch in the past with one of these names. He says it is derived from the Latin word ‘florus’, which means ‘bright’, but surely it could equally come from the word flos/flor for flower.
I haven’t done extensive research on this surname, but it does appear in parchments for Brez and Castelfondo from the mid-1500s, and in early Cloz parish registers. It is still in existence, appearing most commonly in these places.
Variants: Fioretta; Floreta
Leonardi says this surname is a diminutive form of the surname Flor, but I do not know if there is any historical connection between the two surnames. The earliest reference to surname I have found so far is in a Last Will and Testament of Guglielmo ‘called ‘Floreta’ of Cloz, dated 1 March 1458, in which he leaves a legacy to the churches of San Stefano and Santa Maria.
While the surname is always spelled with an ‘L’ when it appears in Cloz records, the variant ‘Fioretta’ is more commonly used in Mezzolombardo and Malè. I do not know if the Fioretta link back to the Cloz families.
Stenico lists three Cloz priests with this surname (although he enters them under ‘Fioretta’), the most recent being Arcangelo Raffaele Floretta, who was born 8 Dec 1867, and died 10 September 1947.
The surname is still extant in Cloz today.
Variants: Franc; Franco; Frang; Frank
When you say ‘Franch’ in Trentino, you immediately think of Cloz in Val di Non. Guelfi lists 10 Franch families who were recorded among the noble gentry (rural nobility) of Val di Non and Sole in 1529, namely:
- Giovanni, son of the late Giorgio Franch
- Guglielmo Franch (no father’s name mentioned, as he was probably the eldest with this name)
- Giovanni, son of the late Simone Franch, and his brothers
- The heirs of the late Paolo Franch
- The heirs of the late Francesco, son of the late Giovanni Franch
- Simone, son of the late Giovanni Franch
- Pietro, son of the late Nicolò Franch
- Guglielmo, son of the late Pietro Franch
- Stefano, son of the late Giovanni Franch
- Pietro, son of the late Francesco Franch
Although the title of rural nobility was granted by Bishop Bernardo Cles to those who had been loyal to the office of the Prince-Bishop during the Guerra Rustica (Rustic War, or Peasant War) of 1525, historian Enzo Leonardi tells us there was one Stefano Franch of Cloz (presumably not the one listed above) who was exiled after that uprising. Later, we find many Franch present at the signing of the 1550 Carta di Regola. Tabarelli de Fatis and Borelli also tell us their surname appears on the lists of the noble gentry of Cloz in the years 1636 and 1730.
While know with certainty that the Franch were living in Cloz at least by the beginning of the 1400s, but the presence of so many lines in 1529 would suggest to me that they were probably already living there at least a century before that.
As to the origin of the surname, I have read two contrasting theories, so I will share both.
Bertoluzza says this is a patronymic surname derived from the male personal name Franco (a short form of Francesco), which has the meaning ‘courageous’, ‘ardent’, or ‘free’. This would indicate that the surname is a patronymic indicating an original patriarch with the name ‘Franco’. Evidence that could support this theory is a legal document dated 9 June 1415 where a ‘Giovanni, son of the late Franco of Cloz’ is cited as the mayor (sindaco) of parish of Cloz. If this refers to the Franch family, this might indicate the surname was not yet in use, and evolved into a surname sometime in the 15th century.
Bertoluzza and Leonardi both add that the word ‘franco’ was also used to refer to someone from the Frankish people, i.e. the Germanic tribes from which Charlemagne came, and who later occupied much of France (and from whom we get the name ‘France’). Leonardi specifies that franco referred to a ‘free contadino’, i.e. a farmer who was not a serf subjected to feudal law. One researcher suggests they were once part of the Carolingian court in France; but romantic as they might seem, drawing such a conclusion without supporting documentation is not something I can endorse.
Linguistically, the ‘ch’ at the end, along with the fact it is often spelled ‘Frang’ in early records, suggests Germanic origins (at least it does to me). Surely a Frankish connection one possibility; but given Cloz’s proximity to German-speaking province of Bolzano (aka South Tyrol), and the fact that it can also be found in that province, I would tend to look closer to home. So, for me, the ‘jury is out’ with regards to origins.
As they are so prolific, when researching the Franch family lines in Cloz, being aware of their various soprannomi is absolutely crucial. The oldest Franch soprannome seems to be ‘Taialargo’, which dates back at least to the mid-1500s. Possibly just as old (although, so far, I’ve only found them in the late 1500s) are the soprannomi ‘Beger’ and ‘Vielmi’. Later, around the mid-1600s, we start to find the soprannome ‘Rizzot’.
While I do not yet know the origin of ‘Taialargo’, the soprannome ‘Vielmi’ was definitely derived from the personal name of patriarch Guglielmo (sometimes written ‘Vielmo’), whom I estimate was born around 1560, or possibly one of his forefathers with this same name. I am fairly confident the soprannomi ‘Rizzot’ and ‘Beger’ would have been derived from the surnames of matriarchs who had the surnames Rizzi and Beger/Wegher, respectively. However, as the marriage records do not go this far back, and mothers’ surnames are rarely recorded in this era, this is only a theory for now.
Historian P. Remo Stenico lists a good 20 Franch priests who came from Cloz, as well as one Franch notary, namely Giacomo Franch of Cloz, who received his notary license on 19 May 1790. In my own research, I have found many members of the Franch family were surgeons, the earliest being Adamo ‘Rizzot’ Franch (son of Antonio), who was born 6 October 1662, and died on 04 Oct 1722, just two days before his 60th birthday.
The name still thrives in Cloz today, and it also shows up in other parts of the province (mostly in the north) and in the province of Bolzano.
If you are unfamiliar with the term soprannome (plural = soprannomi), you may wish to read my article from 2019 entitled ‘Not Just a Nickname: Understanding Your Family Soprannome’.
Variants: Gembrini; Zembrin; Zembrini; Zembrino; Zambrin
For those who may be less familiar with Italian linguistic idiosyncrasies, the letter ‘Z’ is often used interchangeably with a soft ‘G’ that appears before the vowels ‘I’ or ‘E’. It’s my guess that ‘Z’ used to be a much softer sound in Italian and Italian dialects than it is today, and it was probably very close to the soft ‘G’ in sound. For this reason, while the modern surname is always spelled ‘Gembrini’, you will frequently see it spelled with a ‘Z’ in older records.
As to the origins of this surname, Bertoluzza says it came from a soprannome referring to a locality, but says it is ‘not well defined’. There is a place called ‘Pian di Gembro’ (also known as Passo di Piatolta) in the province of Sondrio in Lombardia, but whether this has any connection to the surname is anyone’s guess. Leonardi suggests the name may have been derived from the word ‘Dicembrino’, which means ‘of/from/in the month of December’.
Whatever its origins, the name dates back at least half a millennium in Cloz. We have already mentioned that this surname appears in the 1550 Carta di Regola for Cloz. Both Leonardi and Bertoluzza mention a Zambrin (or Zombrin) of Cloz who was apparently exiled after the Guerra Rustica in 1525.
The earliest surviving parish record in Cloz with this surname is for the baptism of a Michele Zembrino, son of Romedio and Pasqua, dated 17 July 1599:
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We see children of the same couple in later years, where the surname is also found spelled ‘Zembrin’.
Then name appears in Cloz records (spelled both Gembrin and Gembrini) well into the 20th century.
‘Parolari’ was the old dialect word for craftsmen who made ‘paioli’, or copper cooking vessels, typically associated with making polenta. Additionally, the word ‘paroloti’ referred to coppersmiths and those who repaired paioli.
Bertoluzza says the surname arose in both Val di Non and Val Giudicarie.
In Cloz, the earliest example of the surname I have found is the baptism of Domenico, son of Giovanni Parolari and his wife Flor, dated 26 September 1599. Apparently, only one Parolari family remains in Cloz today.
Outside of Cloz, I have found the name in Premione back to the late 1600s, in Seo back to the early 1700s (both Seo and Premione are in the parish of Tavodo in the Giudicarie), and in Cloz in Val di Non, back to the late 1500s. A colleague has also reported seeing the surname in Pomarolo (Vallagarina) in the 1500s.
Bertoluzza says the surname appears in the city of Trento as early as 1441 (‘Antonius Parolarius’) and cites evidence of an Ambrogio Parolari(s) of Tione in 1537. Stenico lists several Parolari notaries (none from Cloz), the earliest being a Bartolomeo Parolari from Brevine in Tione, who practiced between 1671-1722.
There was also a noble Parolari family in Campo Lomaso, who owned an historic pharmacy until the line of heirs ran out, passing the business on to another family.
Within the province of Trentino, the surname it is most commonly found in Tione and Arco. Outside Trentino, it is equally common (actually slightly more) in Lombardia, especially in the province of Brescia.
I do know if there is any historical connection between all these Parolari families, or if the Parolari of Cloz originated from any of these other places.
The word Paternoster is Latin for ‘Our Father’, and it is also the Latin name for the Lord’s Prayer.
When I saw this surname in Cloz, I suspected it as an ‘import’ from the nearby village of Romallo (in the parish of Revò) and I was correct. The surname appears to have come to Cloz when a Giovanni Battista Paternoster (son of Domenico) of Romallo settled in Cloz, and then married into the Franch family (Anna Maria, daughter of Guglielmo) on 31 January 1673:
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IMPORTANT: I have not yet traced the Paternoster in enough detail to say with certainty that Giovanni Battista was the original (or only) source of the surname in Cloz, but as I came across this, and the surname is still so prominent in Cloz, I thought I would give this surname a brief mention in this article.
Bertoluzza says this is one of many dozens of names derived from the root ‘Per/Ped’, which is from the name Pietro/Pero (Petrus in Latin; Peter in English).
Now extinct in Cloz (although I did find ONE family with this surname currently in Rovereto), the surname appears in the Cloz records in the early 1620s. Apparently some families with this surname settled in Michigan and Pennsylvania in the US.
Variants: Rauz; Rauti; Rauta; Rauzer; Raota
Another ancient surname in Cloz, we have seen that it appears in the 1550 Carta di Regola with a Dorigo Rauzi, son of the late Pietro.
Bertoluzza says Raota is the original form of the surname, but I have never seen it written that way in the Cloz registers. He says it is either derived from the German word ‘raot’, meaning a cleared land, or from the personal name ‘Ruzo’. Either way, the sound of the name certainly leads me to think it has a Germanic origin.
While Bertoluzza says the name ‘Rauta’ came from Valsugana in the 1400s, he says it also appears in Cloz at least by the late 1400s. There may be no historical connection between the two surnames, despite some linguistic similarities. In my own research for Cloz, I have found the surname as early as 1599, among the parish’s earliest surviving baptismal records. The surname also appears within a set of judicial documents drafted between 1531-1542. Spellings will vary widely, but ‘Rauzi’ is pretty much the only spelling used today.
In my research, I have identified these Rauzi whose occupations were of particular interest.
- Giovanni Antonio Rauzi (I don’t know his father’s name), born circa 1550, and died 16 Dec 1637. He was the pievano (pastor) of Cloz for many years, and it is assumed he was very old when he died.
- Guglielmo Rauzi, son of Simone, born 9 Nov 1632 and died 14 Oct 1771 at the age of 78.
- Adamo Rauzi, son of Pietro, born 3 June 1683, and died 16 May 1762, nearly 79 years old.
- Pietro Rauzi (son of Bartolomeo) – born circa 1640, died 27 Feb 1711.
- Bartolomeo Rauzi (son of the above Pietro). Born 10 Nov 1676. Died after 1741.
- Adamo Rauzi, son of the above Bartolomeo. Born 13 May 1711 and died sometime after 1768.
- Stefano Rauzi (son of Giovanni Pietro), born 17 Feb 1678, died 8 Jan 1721.
- Giovanni Pietro Melchiore, son of the above Stefano, born 8 Sept 1709 and died at the young age of 26 on 10 Dec 1735.
- Giovanni Antonio Rauzi (son of another Giovanni Antonio), born 13 Aug 1663, died 7 April 1730.
Variants: Riz; Rizz; Ricci; Ritzi; Ricz
The surname Rizzi is found in many parts of Trentino (not just in Val di Non), as well as in many other parts of the Italian peninsula. Bertoluzza says it first appears as a nickname as early as 1188. Because it is so old and so common, trying to draw a straight line to its point of origin is probably next to impossible.
For example, many linguistic historians believe the surname comes directly from the Italian word ‘rizzi’, which means ‘curly-haired’, and that it started as a nickname for someone who curly hair. If that is the origin of the surname, it’s not dissimilar to how the people here in England might call someone ‘Ginger’ if they have red hair. Really, the nickname could apply to anyone, anywhere.
Other historians (including Leonardi) believe it is a patronymic surname, derived from a name such as Riccio, Riccardo, Rizzo or Odorico. Again, I have seen identical patronymic surnames crop in different places, without any historic connection to each other.
In the case of the Rizzi from Cloz, however, we at least know their point of entry. The surname first came to Cloz by way of Cavizzana in Val di Sole. The first indication I have found of this is the baptismal record of Nicolò Rizzi, born in Cloz 16 October 1609, where his father is referred to as ‘Magistri Francesco Ricz of Cavizzana, living in Cloz’:
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NOTE: I have found earlier records for this family, back to 1599, but they do not mention Francesco’s village of origin.
Thus, the surname Rizzi would have ‘arrived’ in Cloz around the end of the 1500s; it thrives there still to this day.
Variants: Sep; Sepp; Seppo
Derived from the name ‘Isepo’ or ‘Josep’ (Joseph or Giuseppe), I normally associate this surname with the village of Ruffré, which was long part of the parish of Sarnonico. However, the surname appears in Cloz back to the earliest surviving records.
The earliest Seppi in Cloz I have identified so far are Nicolò and Isepo, who (based on the birth dates of their children) would have been born circa 1575-1585. None of the records in which they are mentioned suggest they came from someplace else, which seems to indicate the surname was present in Cloz by the end of the 1500s.
We do not see them in the 1550 Carta di Regola, however, which might mean they hadn’t yet arrived in Cloz, or they had arrived recently, but were not yet considered full ‘citizens’ of the village. Again, this is just speculation, as I don’t have enough evidence at this time.
Variants: Beger; Begher; Bregher; Weger
Another surname of Germanic origin, we find it amongst the earliest surviving records in Cloz, the earliest baptismal appearing in November 1599.
In early records, it often written ‘Beger’ or ‘Begher’. Because there is no ‘W’ in the Italian language, Italian speakers will often change the letter W to B when recording names of people and places.
The German root of the name is ‘weg’ which means ‘way’ (as in a path or road). The suffix ‘-er’ indicates an action or an attribute of the person being described, much like ‘baker’ in English means ‘someone who bakes’, and ‘New Yorker’ means ‘someone from New York’. Thus, the word ‘Wegher’ (the ‘h’ is added to preserve the hard ‘g’) could mean ‘someone how lives by or who comes from the path/road’. Bertoluzza likens it in meaning to the Italian surname ‘Dallavia’.
Appearing (as ‘Wegher’) in Cloz records up to the 1890s, it appears not to be in that parish anymore, but can still be found in many other Trentino parishes, as well as in the province of Bolzano/South Tyrol.
Bertoluzza offers two possible origins for this surname. He says it may be a soprannome given to someone who came from the eponymous locality called Zaffon that exists near Noriglio in the comune of Rovereto). Alternatively, he says it could be an expansion of the word ‘zaf’, a dialect term to indicate a ‘birro’, which referred to a guard who protected public order).
Whatever the linguistic origin, the surname is extremely old, appearing in notary records as far back as 1289. Based on these, the earliest identifiable place of origin of the name is Cagnò (also in Val di Non), which was part of the parish of Revò.
‘Zaffon’ appears amongst the earliest surviving parish registers for Cloz, with the first Zaffon baptism appearing on 2 July 1601. The following year, in the baptism of Maria Seppi mentioned earlier, we see her godfather is ‘Zen (Giovanni), son of the late Sisinio Zaffon, placing the birth of the late Sisinio sometime in the mid-1500s. The name Sisinio was a recurring personal name in the Zaffon family during this era. We continue to see it in the parish records for Cloz through the 1880s.
Zanoni belonging to the series of surnames (including Zanini, Zanolini, Zanotelli, Zanol, etc.) which are all are derived from the root ‘Zan’, which is a short from of the personal name Giovanni. It is an extremely common name (think ‘Johnson’), not just in Trentino, but in many other parts of Italy, especially Lombardia and Veneto.
We have already mention that the name appears in the 1550 Carta di Regola for Cloz. We also see it in one of the rare very early surviving baptismal records for Cloz, with the birth of a Domenica, daughter of Cristoforo Zanon and Cattarina, born 22 December 1565:
This surname is still extant in Cloz today.
CLOSING THOUGHTS AND COMING UP NEXT TIME…
I hope this article has given you some insight into the history, surnames, and available genealogical research materials for the parish of Cloz in Val di Non. If you have any questions, feedback, or you have any information from your own research, I would love to hear from you. Please do share your thoughts in the comments belong.
Again, to supplement what you’ve just read, you might also wish to watch this video podcast I made on 4 Sept 2020 called ‘Diving Deeper into Cloz’, where I expand on some of the topics covered in this article, and discuss additional research tips and insights:
Next time, we’ll move on to the parish of REVÒ in Val di Non, the home parish of so many of my clients’ ancestors, and a place I have researched extensively over my years as a genealogist.
In that article (or perhaps in the subsequent one, if it gets too long!), I’ll also touch upon Romallo, Cagnò, Tregiovo, and Marcena di Rumo, which historically were part of the parish of Revò.
I hope you’ll join me for that. To be sure to receive the next article in this series ‘Trentino Valleys, Parishes and People: A Guide for Genealogists’ – and ALL future articles from Trentino Genealogy – just subscribe to this blog using the form below.
Until next time!
3 September 2020
P.S. As you probably know, my spring and summer trips to Trento was cancelled due to COVID-19 lockdowns. I am also not sure when I will be back in Trento. I was hoping to go in November 2020, but now it might be a bit later, after the New Year. There is no way to know for sure right now.
However, I do have resources to do a fair bit of research for many clients from home, and I now have some openings for a few new client projects starting in October 2020.
If you would like to book a time to discuss having me do research for you, I invite you to read my ‘Genealogy Services’ page, and then drop me a line using the Contact form on this site. Then, we can set up a free 30-minute chat to discuss your project.
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View my Santa Croce del Bleggio Family Tree on Ancestry:
ANZILOTTI, Giulia Mastrelli. 2003. Toponomastica Trentina: I Nomi delle Località Abitate. Trento: Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Servizio Beni librari e archivistici.
ARCHIVI STORICI DEL TRENTINO website. III, 401, Constituzione di Censo, 1517 dicember 14, Cloz. Accessed 2 September 2020 from https://www.cultura.trentino.it/archivistorici/unita/3562058.
ARCHIVI STORICI DEL TRENTINO website. 5. Testamento, 1458 marzo 1. Accessed 2 September 2020 from https://www.cultura.trentino.it/archivistorici/unita/1483883.
ARCHIVI STORICI DEL TRENTINO website. 4. Elezioni di arbitri. 1415 giugno 9. Accessed 2 September 2020 from https://www.cultura.trentino.it/archivistorici/unita/1483873.
ARCHIVI STORICI DEL TRENTINO website. 203. Atti giudiziari 1531 febbraio 7- 1542 settembre 1. Accessed 2 September 2020 from https://www.cultura.trentino.it/archivistorici/unita/49780
BERTOLUZZA, Aldo. 1998. Guida ai Cognomi del Trentino. Trento: Società Iniziative Editoriali (S.R.L.).
CASETTI, Albino (dottore). 1951. Guida Storico – Archivistica del Trento. Trento: Tipografia Editrice Temi (S.R.L.).
GIACOMONI, Fabio. 1991. Carte di Regola e Statuti delle Comunità Rurali Trentine. 3 volume set. Milano: Edizioni Universitarie Jaca.
GUELFI, Adriano Camaiani. 1964. Famiglie nobili del Trentino. Genova: Studio Araldico di Genova.
LEONARDI, Enzo. 1985. Anaunia: Storia della Valle di Non. Trento: TEMI Editrice.
SERAFINN, Lynn. 2019. ‘Not Just a Nickname: Understanding Your Family Soprannome’. Published 6 October 2019 at https://trentinogenealogy.com/2019/10/nickname-soprannome-soprannomi/
STENICO, P. Remo. 1999. Notai Che Operarono Nel Trentino dall’Anno 845. Trento: Biblioteca San Bernardino. Can be downloaded for free in PDF format from http://www.db.ofmtn.pcn.net/ofmtn/files/biblioteca/Notai.pdf
STENICO, P. Remo. 2000. Sacerdoti della Diocesi di Trento dalla sua Esistenza Fino all’Anno 2000. Can be downloaded for free in PDF format from http://www.db.ofmtn.pcn.net/ofmtn/files/biblioteca/Preti-Indice-Preti.pdf
TABARELLI DE FATIS, Gianmaria; BORRELLI, Luciano. 2005. Stemmi e Notizie di Famiglie Trentine. Trento: Società di Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche.
TAVOZZI, P. Giangrisostomo. 1970. Parochiale Tridentinum. Originally published in 1785. 1970 version edited by P. Remo Stenico. Trento: Edizioni Biblioteca PP. Francescani.
TRENTINO DOT COM website. ‘Cloz’. Accessed 31 August 2020 from https://www.trentino.com/en/trentino/val-di-non/novella/cloz/
TUTTI ITALIA website. ‘Popolazione Cloz 2001-2019’. Accessed 1 September 2020 from https://www.tuttitalia.it/trentino-alto-adige/34-cloz/statistiche/popolazione-andamento-demografico/